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More simple or a more trustful, pious man, there never was in the wild Welsh mountain range in which he lived, than Elijah Pugh. He had a poor little farm, and a far poorer dwelling-house. He kept a few sheep, two or three cows and pigs, and a small stock of poultry. His fields were barren and unproductive; the pasture was so poor that his cows gave little milk; almost daily there was something the matter with a pig or a sheep; and in his private opinion the hens were worse than useless, for they laid their eggs where they alone could find them.

Yet, in the whole district there was not a more contented, industrious, or cheerful man than Elijah. He had a hard-working wife, who attended to the dairy besides looking after six sturdy children. All went to bed very early to save turf and candle; but they were up very early—at least, Elijah and his wife were—and they did as honest a day's work as honest people ever did. Their work was not one which awakened much enthusiasm in the doing of it. Elijah rose at four, saw that the fire, which had been banked up all night, was rekindled, went out to see after the welfare of his little stock, and came in to a simple breakfast of bread and milk, or sometimes a dish of porridge with a few spoonfuls of cold milk in it—the greatest luxury, in his simplicity he believed, that any man could enjoy. Then he went out to dig, to plant, to reap, as the season might require, and so he went on through all the days of the year.

His wife Hepzibah's duties were of an equally simple character. She rose with her husband, milked the cows, swept the house, prepared the breakfast, washed the children, had them all ready with clean shining faces to meet their father when he came in to join in the simple morning prayer which always preceded breakfast. She baked the bread, knitted and mended stockings and linen, washed, ironed, and did all the general work of the household. There was no school within five miles of them, so she had to give two or three hours a-day to her children to teach them all she knew, which was very little indeed, if we except her surprising knowledge and appreciation of the sacred Scriptures. These she had by heart, and never did a day go by without her children being taught something that they were not likely soon to forget.

We have said there was no school within five miles of them; and in the days of which we write there was no church nearer. A few houses were dotted here and there in the valley below the hill on which their humble homestead stood; but they were so far apart, that anything approaching to neighbourly fellowship was out of the question. Every one lived on what the ground or their little stock produced them. There was very little money amongst them, and what little there was, was got on market-day and put by for the rent.

And there was less religion than there was money. Living amidst scenery that always sent the cultivated tourist into raptures, their souls were dead to the beautiful and sublime in nature. They had no eye for empurpled hill, brilliant cascade, or glittering river dashing its way over the rocks which attempted to impede its progress. The sweet little coppices in the valley where the hares and rabbits made their home, where the birds warbled from morning till night, and where there were delicious glens which artists came miles to sketch, had no meaning to them; they only knew that the footpath through such and such a wood was the nearest way to such and such a place; beyond their daily toil and their daily bread they had no higher thought.

In a simple, but very thorough way, these things troubled Elijah and Hepzibah. They were without school-learnmg; they knew less than many Sunday-school children now know of books and figures; yet, so refining had been the influence of Divine grace upon their hearts, that there was an unconscious sympathy with everything that was good and beautiful, although it would have been the most perplexing puzzle in the world to them to express what they felt.

"Elijah," said his wife one night, "I thick we are wrong."

"Nothing wrong in the rent, Bah, I hope," said her husband. "Bah" was the pet name by which he had called her for years.

"No, no, I do not mean that—that is all right, bless the Lord; but look at us on a Sunday; you and I sometimes walk to meeting, but our neighbours never do, and there's no minister within reach. We need missionaries as much as the heathen."

"Well, what can I do?" said her husband, rubbing his chin.

"I think you ought to preach to them."

"Dear heart alive! I preach?" And Elijah walked about the kitchen to the danger of several ropes of onions which were suspended from the rafters.

"Well, talk to them as you do to the children and me; that will be the best kind of preaching, I am sure."

"But where can I do it, even if I could?" said Elijah.

"Our kitchen is large; but we must not expect too many at first; even if we have two or three, let us be thankful"

"But how am I to get them?" said her husband, musingly.

"Oh, just during the week talk to one or two as you do to me and the children, Jah "—" Jah " was her pet name for her husband—" and you will be sure to succeed."

"They won't care a bit about it, wife; you don't know these people as well as I do."

Hepzibah was silent for a minute or two, and then softly replied in musical Welsh, "We know Him who has promised to be with His disciples unto the end of the world; let us have faith in Him, Jah."

Very earnest were the prayers that husband and wife silently offered that night. Through a wakeful night the wife was praying that something might be done; through a wakeful night the husband was thinking what could be done, and many a smart of conscience pricked him when he thought of the little that had been done.

"I say, Bah," he said in the middle of the night.

"Yes, Elijah!"

"I'll do it; I will see what I can do with Evan Owen tomorrow morning."

And he was as good as his word. In his own quiet, simple manner he told one and another that on the next Sunday evening they were going to have a "meeting" in his house. "But who is to preach?" said one after another.

"You may, if you can," was the quiet reply: "lam sure I can't."

It was the first thing of the kind that had ever been known in the district; but it was the beginning of good things to come. Elijah's first "sermon" was long remembered in the district. It was a simple exposition of the gospel as he had realised it in his own experience, and as he had taught it to his children. He had a remarkable "gift" in prayer, and with fervent pathos could lead the hearts of his rustic audience to the throne of grace. He had a clear tenor voice, and could give good effect to those plaintive hymn tunes which were such favourites in the district. By degrees the work that was being done in this out-of-the-way place became known to the outside world, and occasionally a great Welsh preacher would trot thither and preach three or four sermons in the course of an afternoon and evening.

Several years glided away in this modest work of usefulness, with the happiest results, when calamity dark as midnight began to thicken around Elijah Pugh. His landlord, .who was a bigoted man and opposed to religion altogether, would not stir a finger to repair his farmhouse. His fields became more unproductive than ever, and his stock less profitable. These, however, were small troubles compared with others which fell upon him about the same time. His wife was laid aside by fever, two of his children sickened and died, and at last Elijah himself was stricken just when his little field of wheat was ready for the sickle. He was a man of strong faith, but there were hours in which he felt these troubles too grievous to be borne.

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